Photo Credit- WWE
What a difference a week makes. Last week presented a very refreshing change of pace from the normal Raw formula. We saw some great in-ring action and the progression of interesting storylines. This week, however, has the potential to be something very special. With a sudden WWE title match between Bobby Lashley and Randy Orton added to the show, along with Big E saying he’s going to cash in his briefcase tonight, can Raw deliver on this newfound hype? Let’s find out!
GREAT: The show kicks off with Big E, who discusses why he’s here tonight on Monday Night Raw. RKBRO, as well as the WWE champion Bobby Lashley come out to the ring before Big E can even say anything. Big E reinforces that he’s absolutely going to cash in on whoever the WWE champion is tonight. Riddle hilariously asks E to not cash in on Randy, to which MVP is offended and says that Lashley is going to retain. MVP also says that tonight was the worst possible night for Big E to cash in as they’re not in a good mood. MVP asks Randy how he was able to politic his way into getting the title match tonight as opposed to Extreme Rules, to which Randy says that it’s mind games and he couldn’t wait any longer. MVP interestingly puts over Big E as the member of New Day he felt was destined to win the WWE title first and that his rise on Smackdown would solidify him as a future champion. However, E coming to Raw was a mistake and he should not underestimate Lashley. Lashley and Big E start getting into it and arguing, allowing Orton to hit an RKO outta nowhere! This was a really fun opening segment. All three men looked highly credible and were equally over. The crowd was electric for this segment, especially for Orton. I’m really looking forward to the title match later.
AVERAGE: Charlotte Flair is interviewed backstage before her match with Shayna Baszler. Charlotte says that Nia and Shayna are great competitors, but them continuing to bicker is keeping Shayna down. Charlotte suggests that Shayna ditch the “dead weight” because if she doesn’t, Charlotte will be champion forever.
AVERAGE: Before the upcoming match, they show a brief backstage segment from earlier today where Nia confronts Shayna about her actions last week. Shayna says that she did it because she knows Nia can’t beat Charlotte. Nia says they should get on the same page, but Shayna says nothing and walks off.
GOOD: Up next is Charlotte Flair vs Shayna Baszler. Shayna actually got a pretty decent amount of offense against the champion in this match. That was very needed after a very lackluster couple of months for Shayna. Charlotte hits a beautiful moonsault to the outside on Shayna, but Nia Jax comes out to create the next story beat for the match. From this point on Charlotte targets Shayna’s knee to eventually lock in the figure 8. The finish sees Nia get on the apron to distract Shayna, which allows Charlotte to hit a big boot on Shayna for the win.
Result: Charlotte defeats Shayna via pinfall
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.25 stars
GOOD: Post match, Alexa Bliss and Lilly come to the ring holding a….present? Alexa says that they’re giving Charlotte a gift as a thank you for accepting their title match at Extreme Rules. Charlotte, however, says that she doesn’t collect dolls, she collects championships. Alexa tells her to lighten up and accept the present, but Charlotte says no. The two go back and forth until Charlotte finally accepts the gift. Charlotte opens it to find that Alexa has gifted Charlotte a doll of her own named Charly. Alexa says that everyone deserves a friend, even a bitch like Charlotte, which got a big pop. Charlotte admits she’s narcissistic, but that Alexa doesn’t have what it takes to beat her for the title. She says that she doesn’t need the doll and is going to “adult” Bliss at Extreme Rules. She throws Charly at Alexa and the two begin to fight with Alexa coming out on top. Overall, this was surprisingly better than I thought. I’m happy the doll stuff was very underplayed and more grounded in reality, as opposed to teasing more supernatural elements. The crowd was also VERY into this segment, which honestly helped increase my enjoyment of it.
AVERAGE: Up next is a six man tag team match as Drew McIntyre teams up with the Viking Raiders to take on Jinder Mahal, Veer and Shanky. However, the Punjabi trio attack Drew before the match with the Raiders coming out to make the save. Drew hits a very impressive belly to belly suplex on Veer on the outside. Drew also hits a nice Michinoku driver followed by the claymore on Shanky to pick up the fast, easy win. Nothing too crazy here, but Drew looked great and dominant.
Result: Drew and company win after Drew pinned Shanky
Result: John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2.5 stars
GOOD: The New Day have reunited! Xavier and Kofi hype up Big E ahead of his cash in later tonight. Big E asks Kofi for advice, since Kofi has been WWE champion. They tell E not to be nervous and that he’s going to kill it as WWE champion. They say no one deserves it more than he does. This was a very wholesome segment and the segment I feel everyone wanted. A nice, feel good moment with the New Day back together again, even if it’s just for one night.
AVERAGE: More 24/7 shenanigans ensue as Reggie once again evades would be challengers. Reggie manages to escape as the men continue to argue. Drake Maverick shows up again and says that his plan didn’t fail because of the plan itself, but rather the execution from those involved. Truth and Tozawa argue to end the segment. Nothing special but I’m actually interested in this idea that Maverick is uniting the 24/7 division against Reggie.
GREAT: Up next is Damian Priest defending the United States championship against Jeff Hardy. Before the match they show a brief promo from Priest saying that he’s always wanted to face Jeff and that this is a big honor for him. Sheamus also comes out to do commentary for this match and is highly entertaining throughout. This is a very fun back and forth between these two. Jeff has a great sense of urgency to try and win the championship. The finish was great too with Jeff going for a twist of fate but is reversed into a Reckoning to allow Priest to retain.
Result: Priest wins via pinfall
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.75 stars
AVERAGE: Post match, Sheamus immediately jumps the ring and beats up Priest. Sheamus gets rid of Hardy by Brogue kicking him out of the ring. Sheamus then sets up for another brogue kick on Priest, but Priest counters with a Brogue kick of his own. Sheamus scampers to end the segment.
AVERAGE: Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley are backstage. Nikki says that after their win last week they should work on a celebration. Rhea tells her to focus on the tag team titles instead. Natalya and Tamina show up and say that they got lucky last week but they’re nothing more than a couple of freaks. Nikki tries showing some backbone but is laughed off by the champions. Tamina shoves Nikki and the two teams begin to brawl. Sonya Deville shows up and breaks them up and says that in addition to Natalya vs Rhea, Nikki will also face Tamina. This was a decent segment but Sonya calling Nikki A.H.S. was a big botch.
GOOD: Riddle and Orton are backstage as Randy preps for his championship match tonight. Riddle hilariously ponders how Randy will wear both titles. Big E comes in and once again let’s Randy know of his intentions to cash in later tonight.
SATISFACTORY: Up next is Nikki A.S.H. vs Tamina. The match for the first part is Tamina demolishing Nikki, hitting a very nice lariat at one point. Tamina also hits a gnarly open hand slap that looked vicious. Nikki continues trying to mount a comeback, but Tamina once again gains the advantage. The finish, however, was VERY botched which brings this match down a peg. Nikki hits a tornado DDT but Tamina kicks out. The referee counts 3 anyways and Nikki wins the match.
Result: Nikki wins via pinfall
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2 stars
GOOD: Immediately after we have Rhea Ripley vs Natalya. This was honestly much better than the previous match with their partners. Natalya at one point hits a very nice suplex to Rhea on the outside. The two have a very fun back and forth from this point on and build to a relatively fun match. Rhea goes to hit the riptide, but is distracted by Tamina on the apron. Natalya goes to hit a move on Rhea but is tripped up by Nikki. Rhea then locks in the inverted sharpshooter to make Natalya tap out for the victory. This was a much better match than the previous one but nothing too stellar either. A fun match between these two once again.
Result: Rhea wins via submission
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.25 stars
AVERAGE: Charlotte is interviewed backstage about what happened earlier tonight. She refuses the interview initially but sees Charly sitting on a crate. She says that she doesn’t know why Alexa gave her the doll, but she’s going to put the doll in the same place she’s going to put Alexa, in the trash.
GOOD: Up next is an eight man tag team match as Mustafa Ali and Mansoor team up with the New Day to take on Mace and T-Bar and AJ Styles and Omos. Mace and T-Bar have a backstage promo where they once again talk about animals, saying Ali and Mansoor are cattle that are going to be led to the slaughter. A nothing promo. The match, however, was some decent fun. Mace and T- Bar continue to look dominant by demolishing everyone in the match. The match eventually builds to a very fun barrage of quick high-octane moves with all 8 guys, the highlight being T-Bar just TOSSING Mansoor over the top rope. Omos comes in to a great pop and they have a great spot where all four men try taking him down, but he doesn’t even budge. Omos disposes of New Day easily and hits the Punjabi Plunge on Mustafa for the win. Another fun match on the show.
Result: AJ’s team wins after Omos pinned Mustafa
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.25 stars
GOOD: Bobby Lashley and MVP are interviewed backstage about the new factor of Big E to the WWE title match. MVP says that Big E is more of an annoyance than anything and that Lashley will focus on demolishing Randy tonight and retaining his title. He goes through all of the men Lashley has defeated including Kofi and Goldberg and says that Orton and potentially Big E will be added to that list. Big E shows up and once again says that he plans on cashing in his briefcase.
SATISFACTORY: Up next is Doudrop vs Eva Marie. This was pretty much a nothing match but I’m happy Doudrop just went over clean and definitively.
Result: Doudrop wins via pinfall
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 2 stars
GREAT: Karrion Kross has a backstage promo where he talks about all of the men he’s beaten up over the past couple of months and how he revels in their pain and suffering. He says that he’s not here on Raw to get lost in the shuffle. He’s here to hurt people, he’s here to make people fall and pray. This was absolutely excellent. Easily the best thing Kross has done since coming to Raw. A great segment to check out.
GOOD: Main event time as Bobby Lashley defends the WWE title against Randy Orton. Orton takes the early advantage by shoving Lashley into various objects including the steel steps, the barricade and the announce table. However, Lashley eventually takes control. Orton hits a massive superplex, which commentary puts over quite nicely as an homage to his dad. Lashley reverses the RKO into a spear and gets a very close two count on Randy. Bobby goes for the Hurt Lock but can’t get it quite in. Orton is able to reverse and hit the RKO, but Lashley rolls to the outside with help from MVP. Riddle gets in MVP’s face, who eats an RKO from Randy. Randy grabs his injured midsection and enters the ring to a thunderous spear from Lashley, allowing him to retain the WWE title in a fun match. I liked the finishing story beat of Orton losing because he chose to go outside and save Riddle.
Result: Lashley retained the title via pinfall
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 3.5 stars
GREAT: Post match, Lashley beats up Riddle, sending him into the turnbuckle. He then spinebusters Orton through the announce table, but Lashley begins feigning his own leg afterwards. Big E then comes out to live up to his word and cash in the money in the bank briefcase! The moment is here. This was a great buildup into the cash in. I like Lashley demolishing RKBRO, but ultimately hurting himself by doing so, which could lead to his demise. The pop Big E got as well for cashing in was GREAT.
MUST WATCH SQUASH: Finally we have Big E vs Bobby Lashley for the WWE title. Lashley immediately gets the upper hand on Big E, but is clearly injured. Big E goes for the Big Ending but Lashley counters with the spear who VERY narrowly almost beats him. Big E eventually hits the Big Ending and wins the WWE title!!! What an AMAZING moment this was. The crowd went mental. Big E celebrates with his New Day brothers. A beautiful, perfect moment.
There are very few moments in professional wrestling that can be described as pure magic. Big E winning the WWE title tonight was absolutely one of those moments. However, the rest of the show must be taken into account as well. Overall, this was an enjoyable show once again. It did drag at times and matches like Nikki and Tamina and Doudrop and Eva left a lot to be desired. However, other matches like Priest and Hardy, the eight man tag and Rhea and Natalya made up for that. The crowd was absolutely electric for a vast majority of the show, especially for the heartwarming ending. Definitely one of the better Raws this year.
Show theme & presentation: 7/10
Crowd reaction: 9/10
Storyline Progression: 8/10
Overall show rating: 7.1/10